It's no surprise that many of the most popular games of all time are played on PC. It's the platform where new ideas are developed, where loyal fans can pitch in and create mods as inspired as the game the pay homage to, and whose keyboard + mouse control scheme lets people play any genre with comfort and ease.
While a list like this could hardly do decades' worth of PC's diverse gaming history justice, here are 8 games which touched millions of players and made an impact on their lives.
The oldest game on the list also happens to be one with the most vibrant communities 20 years after its release. Blizzard's space-themed RTS hooked players with its campaign's intriguing narrative, three diverse factions to choose from, and engaging multiplayer format that never gets old.
The game still receives regular balance updates and thousands of player-made maps along with ranked play keep players coming back for more. StarCraft has become a phenomenon in South Korea where sponsored teams battle for serious cash prizes to the delight of millions of fans. It's among the first games that made people think of esports as more than a passing fad, and definitely shows no signs of slowing down in spite of its successful sequel.
Well-known for their Sim City series and other simulation games in the 1990s, Maxis made the biggest contribution to gaming history by releasing the Sims in 1999. It's a game that lets you create and customize a virtual person or family and then guide their lives by your (not so) benevolent hand.
You get to build and decorate their surroundings, watch Sims fall in love and advance in their career, or think up horrific ways for them to die if you're the sadistic type. The original has spawned three sequels and dozens of associated content packs, not to mention a community that contributes much to the games' already plentiful content.
World of Warcraft
Although games like Everquest and Ultima Online were successful MMORPGs back in the 1990s, it wasn't until World of Warcraft stepped on the stage in 2004 that the genre became a global phenomenon. Its 7th expansion has launched to critical acclaim recently, proving that the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance is far from over.
In WOW you choose from a wide variety of races and classes to create a character whose adventures will take her across multiple worlds. You can sink literally thousands of hours into exploring the lore-rich world, tackling the most challenging raids, and doing battle with other players without experiencing everything the game has to offer. There is a nominal monthly subscription fee, but the adventure is worth every penny.
The original Half-Life is a landmark game for the history of first-person shooters and games in general. Who would have thought that a successor which had such huge shoes to fill would end up surpassing it? Received to raving reviews by critics and fans alike, Half-Life 2 managed to sell more than 9 million copies and leave an engine behind that would later spawn greats like Portal, Team Fortress 2, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive.
You return as the verbose scientist turned freedom fighter Gordon Freeman to combat an alien threat that's managed to subdue the whole world. Along the way you'll meet a few memorable resistance fighters and pick up one of the most iconic weapons in history. No, not the crowbar – the gravity gun! Beautiful level design, heart-pumping action, and a powerful story engulf you and seem to end far too soon. There's bound to be another sequel though ... right?
Markus Persson probably never could have imagined how his block-building game would one day become a global phenomenon. Well, he's a billionaire now, and Minecraft has become synonymous with great creative fun anyone could enjoy.
You start off stranded in an unknown wilderness with nothing but your fists and need to survive your first night surrounded by zombies and exploding creepers. Soon that frantically dug first shelter will turn into a home, and then into a sprawling metropolis ... or spaceship ... or anything else you set your mind to. The creative possibilities in Minecraft are literally endless and get even more in-depth with each new release.
Sid Meier is responsible for creating the most detailed and addictive series of turn-based strategy titles in the world. In Civilization, you take control of a bunch of nomads at the dawn of time and guide them on the road to becoming one of the mightiest empires in the world.
Its fifth installment is so popular because it streamlined a lot of its predecessors' redundant mechanics, introduced a hex grid, better combat, and more exciting ways to play. Your chosen empire can achieve glory by winning the space race, impressing the rest of the world with its monuments, or in the fashion of the game's version of Gandhi, nuke everyone else into oblivion. Civ 5 is the game you want to take one last turn in and find yourself still riveted to three hours later.
League of Legends
There's nothing to laugh about LoL as it is the most successful MOBA ever with more than 80 million reported active players. Similar to StarCraft, it is a flagship title of the esports scene and a source of both immense satisfaction and frustration for its players.
Each match sees two teams of five players battle along three lanes with the objective of destroying the others' base. There are more than 140 heroes to choose from, each with overarching roles and unique abilities. The fast-paced combat requires lightning reflexes and a good sense of teamwork. The developers keep LoL fresh by constantly balancing the numerous heroes and items while introducing new maps and game modes.
Fortnite is the newest game on the list and has already managed to attract both millions of dedicated players. It pits 100 players against one another in a battle royale free-for-all that's best described as a mix of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Minecraft. It's incredibly fun and exciting.
You're parachuted down to an island that's several square miles large. To survive, you need to find weapons, craft structures, and bide your time. The catch is that the playable area gets progressively smaller, forcing you to both move and draw closer to enemy players. The endgame is particularly suspenseful as only a handful of people are left on a tiny portion of the map and need to outsmart one another to claim the prize.